Strikes at 88 universities set for next week called off

University and College Union (UCU) is calling for universities to halt strike action  (PA Wire)
University and College Union (UCU) is calling for universities to halt strike action (PA Wire)

Staff at 88 universities have pulled out of a five-day nationwide strike beginning next Monday, with only 42 universities now taking part, The University and College Union (UCU) has said.

The strike is set to run between September 25 and 29 in a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions. Members at a further 10 universities will be striking on at least one day next week.

Strikes had been set to go ahead at more than 140 universities across the UK.

Deals have been made between employers and branches over the ending of “punitive” pay deductions, the union said on Friday, including at the University of Aberdeen, the University of Bristol, the University of Bath, Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Stirling and the University of Sussex.

The UCU called on other universities to follow suit and said halting action will allow its branches to focus on organising a reballot of members to continue taking industrial action in the long-running national dispute.

Voting started this week and will run until early in November.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We have seen many employers do the right thing and agree to stop punitive pay deductions and some have also agreed to return what has been taken.

“We are now urging other vice-chancellors to follow their lead and are calling off strike action at dozens of universities. This will also allow our members to concentrate on winning the reballot and getting the pay and conditions they deserve.

“Renewing our mandate and keeping the pressure on is the way we will win this dispute, but the strike action due to go ahead next week stands as a reminder to all employers that if you behave egregiously, you will face further disruption.”

Raj Jethwa, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), said: “Students and staff will welcome the announcement that UCU has stood down next week’s strike days at the majority of institutions.

“It is still disappointing that a number of UCU branches will see attempt to carry out strike action. UCEA’s priority is to work with the UCU and the other four trade unions on a number of important pay-related matters including the review of the pay spine, workload, contract types and further action to reduce the already falling pay gaps in the sector.

“A crucial element of resetting industrial relations in the sector is developing a shared understanding of affordability. For the sake of students and staff alike, it is now vital to work together to bring to an end the sector’s recent cycle of industrial disputes.”